Some images from yesterday’s Bushwick Art Park at Factory Fresh: featuring sculptural pieces by Skewville, El Celso, Sweet Toof, Leon Reid IV, Infinity, Specter, and others & with a block-long mural by Veng.
Luna already covered the details in this post, but here are a few more shots of local artists preparing for this weekend’s Bushwick Open Studios and the Bushwick Art Park (today only!).
Skewville (photo by Becki Fuller)
Bast (photo by Becki Fuller)
Veng RWK (photo by Becki Fuller)
Veng RWK (photo by Becki Fuller)
Robot Will Kill’s Veng has been working around the clock to complete a new, block-long mural in time for this weekend’s Bushwick Open Studios. On Saturday, Vandevoort Place by Factory Fresh will be shut to traffic and transformed into Bushwick Art Park, a one-day sculpture garden featuring works by Bast, Leon Reid IV, Specter, Skewville, Ben Godward, Infinity, Garry Nichols, Tyrome Tripoli and El Celso.
Factory Fresh also celebrates its third anniversary on Saturday – congrats, Ali and Ad! – with the opening of a new show co-curated with Jason Andrew. Surrealism includes works by Jim Avignon, Kevin Curran, Ryan Michael Ford, Paul D’Agostino, Jake Genen, Ben Godward, Tamara Gonzales, Andrew Hurst, Amy Lincoln, Rebecca Litt, Francesco Longnecker, Norman Jabaut, J.P. Marin, Brooke Moyse, Garry Nichols, Patricia Satterlee, Pufferella, Kevin Regan, Skewville, John Sunderland, Sweet Toof, Tyrome Tripoli, Marjorie Van Cura and Veng.
Veng will further demonstrate his painting skills at the nearby Curbs & Stoops Active Space, where he and Nathan Pickett will be live painting. The space also opens a group show, Stay Gold, featuring Don Pablo Pedro, Nathan Pickett, QRST, Quel Beast, and Vahge.
Saturday, June 4th
Bushwick Art Park + Surrealism
1053 Flushing Avenue
(between Morgan and Knickerbocker)
Stay Gold + Live Painting + Open Studios
Curbs & Stoops Active Space
566 Johnson Avenue
You’ll find more info on the full slate of weekend festivities at Bushwick Open Studios!
With the season officially opening at Coney Island this past weekend, the good people at No Longer Empty took advantage of the area’s “developing landscape” (that is, imminent destruction) and arranged for artists Over Under and Veng to tackle a long stretch of blue construction barriers. The seaside carnival themed mural can be viewed at the nexus of Coney Island, the intersection of Stillwell and Surf Avenues. How much local flavor the area will retain in coming years remains to be seen…
This weekend Robots Will Kill celebrated their 10th anniversary with a show, featuring new works from every crew member, at the Vincent Michael Gallery in Philadelphia. It was a full house from start to finish and many dedicated friends, fans and family members made the traffic heavy trip down to support the guys. It was extra special to have both ECB and Peeta make the trip over from Europe in order to attend the opening as well as paint some walls in Brooklyn.
Not ones to rest on their laurels, Chris, Veng, ECB and Peeta woke up the day after the opening and got right to painting at their spot in Bushwick. Never and Over Under joined in for what is shaping up to be one of the best collaborative walls RWK has painted in some time. ECB even found some time to put up a rare wheatpaste. Congratulations RWK!
This Friday is a very important day for our friends and partners over at Robots Will Kill, with the opening of their show Never Say Die at the Vincent Michael Gallery in Philadelphia. Not only with this be the first time that every member has shown their work together, but it is also celebrating the 10th anniversary of Robots Will Kill. Over the weekend I took the ferry out to their hometown of Staten Island to get a preview of the work for the show and to ask Chris & Veng a few questions.
On Friday, April 1st, you will be having a show at the Vincent Michael Gallery celebrating the 10th anniversary of Robots Will Kill. Can you tell us about how RWK got started and it has changed over the years?
Chris: In 2000 I had become friends with Kevin and we would speak about graffiti, art and other common interests. I had told him that I was tired of galleries not taking things like graffiti and street art serious. I also at the time wanted to launch a website showcasing my artwork. One night while we were talking we agreed that it would be great to give others the opportunity to show their work also. So we started to lay out the site. We had the graffiti/street art section the mini gallery section, merch section and some others. I always thought it was great that some kid in Australia could see someones work from New York and vice versa. So in March of 2001 we launched the site. It was slow in the beginning but def started to pick up speed quick. The images started to really pour in. We couldn’t keep up with doing the uploading ourselves so Kevin developed a great anonymous self upload feature. So over the years there’s def been improvements but the main ideal is still there.
We always looked towards different outlets for exposure. One being stickers. I’m a huge fan of stickers. So it kind of went hand in hand. Another was the murals. Murals always grab peoples attention. It was a great way to mix the two things, doing artwork and helping get the name out there. I didn’t want anyone just hooking it up on walls. I wanted it to be kept to a core group of artists.
Chris, as a founding member of RWK, what does making it to the ten year mark and having this show mean to you?
Chris: The ten year mark was a dream when we first started. I remember when me and Kevin launched we were so excited to see 13 visitors to the site. Before we knew it the visitor numbers kept rising and more and more graff images came in and more artists wanted to have mini galleries on the site. We were so excited when we hit the 5 year mark but didn’t really plan anything for it. With the 10 year mark we had to do some special plans. The Vincent Michael show is the start. Its definitely a great one too. Its the first time all 7 of us will be showing together. In July we will all be showing again but this time in the Ayden Gallery in Vancouver, Canada. There will also be some limited edition shirts, stickers and other goodies.
One of the best things about doing a show to celebrate the anniversary is when the site started it was about giving artists a place to show their work. Especially artists that were overlooked by the mainstream world.
Veng, how did you become involved with RWK and how long have you been a member?
Veng: Since we all started on Staten Island, we ended up knowing and painting with the same people. After painting with other RWK members and already knowing them as friends it was around 2004 I was asked to write RWK.
Most people who are familiar with RWK probably know the two of you, but may be surprised to learn that there are several other members: Kevin, ECB, Peeta, Flying Fortress, and JesseRobot. Can you share a little information about the rest of the crew?
Veng: I had known of both ECB and Peeta’s work for some time, but we didn’t meet until 2006 at a graffiti event I helped organize called Meeting Of Styles. We all painted a wall together and found that our styles, methods, and personalities really meshed well together. It felt like we had already painted thousands of walls, even though this was our first. It was then that I thought it would be great to have them join RWK. Both ECB and Peeta are very proficient in what they paint, ECB with strong character paintings and also extreme talent with type (a squared font he uses to sign walls) which he paints freehand and I still love to watch after all these years. Peetas talent with seamless blending of light and shadow to make you feel as if his letters are jumping off the wall, leaving me amazed still. Both guys have become great friends and people in my life who I feel very fortunate to know.
Chris: Kevin was there from the start. He helped me get everything together and moving. He came from a graffiti background and we had so many things in common. When we spoke about the idea of the site he sounded just as excited as I was so I knew it would work. In the past few years he broke out his paint brushes and cans. He does primarily stencil work with free painting mixed in.
JesseRobot reached out to me around 2002 saying how much he loved the site and would love to have a mini gallery and do a link exchange. I loved his robots and his style so I asked him if he would wanna trade some artwork and do some collab pieces. We would mail each other cardboard since it was cheap and held up better then paper. We also traded and collabed on a ton of stickers. He would put them up all over Belgium. He really helped get them name out to an area of the world that I would never go to. A few years later when RWK took on more of an art collective identity I asked JesseRobot if he would be intrested in pushing RWK.
Around 2003 I had traded some stickers with Flying Fortress and that started a steady relationship with him. We swaped tshirts and some small collab cardboard pieces. I loved his work from the first time I saw it. The teddy troops are such a great iconographic image. His name also created a great visual in your head. A few years later I received an email from him saying he was coming to New York and asked if I had a spot for him to paint. After that every time he came to NY we made sure he had a spot to paint. During a visit in 2009 I asked Fortress if he would like to push RWK.
Do you have any final words that you would like to share with the fans and patrons that have supported you over the years?
Veng: I am very happy this has become what it is, a vehicle for me to promote art and create art with my best friends. Most importantly my deepest thanks to all who have supported RWK over the years.
Chris: I still believe in what I said when we started this 10 years ago, “you wouldn’t give us a space… so we built one”. Sure there’s other sites and galleries out there, but you’ve stuck by us and for that I say thank you.
As a follow-up to Becki’s post from earlier this week about Veng’s upcoming show at Pandemic Gallery, here is a preview of the pieces he painted on the gallery’s back wall. His technical proficiency with a spray can cannot be denied – it is a defining strong point of his street work – Friday’s opening promises to bring his more public side together with his equally as finely crafted studio work.
Works by H. Veng Smith
December 17th – January 8th
Artist Reception December 17th, 7 -11pm
37 Broadway b/w Kent & Wythe
Brooklyn, NY 11211
This Friday, Veng of Robots Will Kill will be exhibiting the first solo show of his work at Pandemic Gallery. Since The Street Spot’s own Luna Park wrote the press release for Identifiable Reality, I am happy to be able to share her insight into Veng’s work along with my photos previewing the show.
“In his first solo show, Veng takes us back to simpler times, to an era when things were made to last. Inspired by the artistry and work ethic of his grandfather, who hailed from a family of Swedish carpenters, Veng’s detail-rich paintings focus on the craftsmanship of the handmade. Embracing the handmade aesthetic to the fullest for this exhibition, Veng had custom mahogany panels built and crafted his own paints from simple pigments and linseed oil. Blurring the lines between the substantive and the imaginary, his paintings depict a world populated by a cast of stoic characters and whimsical winged creatures that interact with wooden contraptions more phantasmagorical than real. Drawing equally on the Old Masters and modern-day illustrators, Veng’s work possesses a timelessness not often captured by his contemporaries.
Born on Staten Island in 1981, Veng began studying painting as a young kid at a local art league. Since then, painting has remained an integral part of his life. With his work, he looks to capture the feel of something made long ago, be it characters with old-fashioned appearances or objects with Old World designs. He depicts ideas in his paintings in a representational and faithful manner, yet conveys them visually with a whimsical touch.
Borrowing from techniques of the Northern Renaissance, Veng paints by building up multiple layers. His thought process for painting, however, is less traditional and very much informed by his background in street art. He aims to make surreal impressions, with characters whose square heads are on the one hand very unreal, yet whose facial features are eerily familiar. He enjoys depicting scenes showing the viewer fictitious landscapes of an Old World interspersed with contemporary qualities. Nature also plays an important role in Veng’s work. He shows animals in a more traditional manner, painting them with realistic colors and textures. Often he’ll couple animals with imaginary devices that they control.
works by H. Veng Smith
December 17th – January 8th
Artist Reception December 17th, 7-11pm
37 Broadway b/w Kent & Wyth
Brooklyn, NY 11211
A couple of weeks ago, one of my good friends, the very talented photographer Jazz Beaulieu, picked back up one of my favorite ongoing projects of hers, “We Are Law“. Between shoots, I asked her to take a few minutes to explain the series to The Street Spot’s readers:
“‘We are Law’ is a project I started back in 2005. I had been friends with Royce Bannon and Infinity for about a year from going to parties and a bunch of gallery and painting events. You couldn’t help but want to create whenever you were around those guys. I’d meet people who were so passionate about their art. They’d ask me what I was doing and I never had much of an answer at the time…I always felt a little out of place because I wasn’t a street artist or a painter or a graphic designer. I am a portrait photographer and back then, I wasn’t even doing much of that. I had just moved to NY and was more or less just trying to get planted in my industry however I could. Hanging out with those guys reminded me of why I was living there in the first place.”
“So, I began creating again, shooting small projects here and there outside of street art. After spending about 2 years with everyone, I wanted to do something to document them, which is how I came up with the idea for “We Are Law”. I liked the idea of “masking” the artists’ identities while capturing the personas that they work to create. I wanted to make their characters come to life. We’ve all seen portraits of artists with a bandana or a hand blocking their faces or with their back turned etc. I wanted something original. I wanted something that was “collaborative” in the same way that those first parties I went to with them had been. And so was born ‘We Are Law’.”
“The first shoot was with artists and friends – Gore-B, Infinity, Deeker, Celso, Pufferella and Io Wright. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The biggest challenge for most the artists is to create a 3 dimensional piece of art. Most of them only paint 2-D. I was taken back by the effort they put into their creations. I was flattered that they took it so seriously and really brought another level to the work. I knew after that that this was going to be a great project.”
“I chose the name “We Are Law” to give credit to the artists as creators who choose where and when their artwork will be seen without any weigh on the propriety/legality of it. They made their own laws and law enforcement is still trying to catch up, so I thought “We Are Law” was an appropriate name that depicts them as trail blazers rather then criminals. The lineup backdrop is just mockery.”
“This project is ongoing and ultimately I’d like to have an exhibition with the masks on display along with the printed pieces and publish a book as well.”
In the most recent shoot for this series, Jazz has included the artists Dark Clouds, Keely, Royce Bannon, Billi Kid, Chris & Veng of Robots Will Kill, Anera, Matt Siren & Rob Fokused and has an upcoming shoot planned for UR New York, Peru Ana Ana Peru, Abe Lincoln Jr., Wrona and Elbow Toe. Any other artists interested in participating in “We Are Law” should contact Jazz at firstname.lastname@example.org